Inside a White Supremacist Conference Aimed at Millennials
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
In the basement of Washington’s Ronald Reagan building this Saturday, 100 or so preppy white folks gathered to talk about their disgust with modernity and their embattled race. The room felt like a bunker, windowless and cramped.
Near the White House, the men — and handful of women — bought books about the IQ differences between races and listened for nearly nine hours, as speakers from the U.S., Switzerland and France carried on about their shared European heritage, the impending financial collapse and the absurdity of believing all men are born free and created equal.
“God did not give people inalienable rights any more than he made them all equal and it is just the silliest kind of thing,” said Sam Dickson, an attorney who has spent decades supporting ultra-right-wing causes from Holocaust denial to Confederate revisionism. “That kind of thinking to the brain is like cotton candy to the stomach as compared to roast beef.”
The conference, titled “After the Fall: The Future of Identity,” was an opportunity to vent about a world that “has begun to crack and splinter under the pressure of mass immigration, multiculturalism and the natural expression of religious and ethnic identities by non-Europeans,” an online announcement explained. The conference comes as much of the white separatist movement is coalescing in opposition to Congress’ push for comprehensive immigration reform.
The host was the National Policy Institute, a quasi-think tank “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of European people in the United States, and around the world.” In sessions, speakers carried on about “The God That Failed,” “The Children of Oedipus,” the “Question of Identity.”
“We want to change the world,” NPI leader and conference organizer Richard Spencer announced to his people. “We feel we are at the end of a certain paradigm and we want to take part in creating a new one.” The conference, in essence, was an opportunity for paranoids to hold a planning session/pep rally for their long-awaited economic or cultural collapse.
For the most part it was pretty small-bore stuff. In the lobby outside of the Polaris room, young men debated whether Ayn Rand’s message of individualism served the white race or fragmented it.
During a coffee break, a discussion about whether whites of different ancestry could ever live together in an ethno-state erupted from one of the tables.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the conference were the number of young men present, millennials in search of a political identity.
“I am not a fan of political correctness,” said Andrew Benson, 28, who had traveled from Canada to attend. Wearing a black suit vest, red collared shirt and black cargo pants, he looked more like he’d come to his conclusions as part of a teenage rebellion. “I have always had an odd attraction to things that are taboo.”
Most of the young men were eagerly looking to see NPI’s leader, Richard Spencer, who has transformed into a bit of an icon for those interested in what sometimes calls itself the alternative right. At 35, Spencer is still a young man himself. (I recently profiled him for Salon.)
“I do feel responsible for [the number of young people here] in a way,” Spencer said after the conference. “What we are talking about resonates with a younger people who are growing up in a different world.”